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Old 10-08-2017, 09:33 PM   #1
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1966 24' Tradewind
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Disc Brake Conversion- 1966 Tradewind

I am converting from the original 12" drum brakes in my 66 Tradewind, tandem axle, to 10" disc brakes. I have been planning on doing this for about the last two or three years when I installed new axles and it was finally time this year to make the conversion.

I had decided some time ago that I would order my axles from Colin Hyde, even if I stayed with drum brakes. Andy has always strongly recommended that folks buy from him because he is selling you 12" axles and Colin is selling you 10" axles. Quite frankly, I did not want 12" drum brake axles for my Tradewind. My rig weighs 5,000 lbs, not 10,000 lbs that the new Classic Airstreams weigh that have 12" drum brakes. So I decided on 10" brakes and I was ordering from Colin Hyde.

Next I had to make a decision about drum versus disc. I had read some about the problems with disc brake systems and their complexity. Problems with failing E/H actuators, delay problems, bleeding difficulties, rusting rotors, rusting calipers, etc. Also Airstream used to provide disc brakes on some trailers but had abandoned this as an option all together.

In the end I just could not install drum brakes on my 66 Tradewind. I don't like drum brakes, all my cars have disc brakes and have for the past 50 years! I wanted to install the best of everything in my Tradewind restoration and this meant disc brakes. I would just do the best job that I could in selecting the components and installing them. Reading some of the Forum members positive experience with disc brake systems was helpful in deciding to go this route. I hope that I can join them in my disc brake conversion being a positive experience.

I went to the Dexter website. They were happy to sell you 3,500 lb axles with 10" drum brakes or 10" disc brakes. These would come with a #84 spindle. The disc brakes that would fit on this spindle would be Kodiak with the single piston caliper. This was good news to me as I had read about lots of bleeding problems with the multi piston Kodiak calipers. The Kodiak brake hub would also need to be a 5 bolt pattern, so I would need to buy new wheels. I did not like hearing this, but it just meant that the conversion would cost more since now I needed to buy 4 new wheels. Since Dexter
could provide the axle with either disc or drum brakes, I figured that I would order the disc brakes already installed on the axles when I ordered from Colin. When I called and talked to Colin he told me that his Dexter contact said they were offering a new and different brake system from Kodiak. I decided that I wanted the Kodiak disc brakes and just ordered the bare axle from Dexter.

I decided that I wanted the Tuson Actulink 1600 actuator along with their Directlink brake controller since both receive input from the TV computer.

I have installed the disc brakes on the new axles. It was really pretty straight forward, but since I had never done this before it did take some time. I still need to install the actuator, brake lines and the brake controller in my 2008 Tundra.

Here are some photos of the disc brake installation.

Dan
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:53 AM   #2
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Looking good. Now just make sure you accommodate the axle swing up and back down as you route the hoses.
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:36 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Looking good. Now just make sure you accommodate the axle swing up and back down as you route the hoses.
I agree. Thanks for bringing this up. This is definitely one of my concerns, how to route and attach the flexible brake line to accommodate axle motion. I have already found that Airstream's sloppy installation of the right rear shock mount has caused a problem (photo 1). I needed to cut off the shock mount that extended about 1" below the frame so it did not interfere with the flexible brake line that is connected to the right rear brake caliper (photo 2).

Dan
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Old 10-10-2017, 06:46 AM   #4
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Dan,

The routing, make sure if the hose winds up near the frame that it has a chafing protection cover. Often it's a rubber jacket on application fitted hoses. But even using split plastic loom can offer a cover.

Gary
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:27 PM   #5
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More hose considerations. Fit the hoses with the axle arms fully extended and then check their clearance from the frame, wheel, and shock mounts through out their up and down travel range. The hoses normally have one end that is a flare fitting for the caliper and the other end is a fitting held in with a clip with a metal line on the other end. There are local hose fabricating companies in most larger cities and they can make any length all DOT certified. Try on line. I had mine made for +- $45 ea. I have read all the literature on Tuson Actulink 1600 actuator and am impressed with their egineering. I have used the DirecLink controller for 5 years and it works great.
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Old 04-01-2018, 09:49 PM   #6
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Yikes, itís been almost six months since my last post.

I have finally finished installing my hydraulic disc brake pump actuator.
I moved the water pump slightly and the actuator is in the front next to the fresh water tank. I secured it to the floor with the included stainless steel brackets and I have it wired, hopefully correctly. Next is to install the hydraulic lines and connect them to the hydraulic pump.

The goucho sits behind the hydraulic disc brake pump. I will re-install it after I am finished with the brake installation.

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Old 04-03-2018, 08:56 PM   #7
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Here is another photo of the pump actuator.

I have finally decided how to route the brake lines. I originally thought that I was going to rout it on the outside of the frame but there didnít appear to be enough room to accommodate suspension motion without the flexible line hitting something. The shock absorbers were in the way. I decided to run the flexible line under the frame to the belly pan and then just run the hard brake line along the belly pan to the hydraulic pump. Here is a photo of the flexible line routing on the left rear disc brake.

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Old 04-04-2018, 04:26 AM   #8
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Dan,

Looks clean, question, ground clearance to hose?

Gary
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:57 AM   #9
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Agreed - looks great. Iím a little concerned about the flex loop hanging down like it is, as itís positioned to be at risk of being hooked by road debris and torn out. Is there another way to mount the line? A good sized branch could leave you without brakes.
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Old 04-04-2018, 08:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YippieKiYa View Post
Agreed - looks great. Iím a little concerned about the flex loop hanging down like it is, as itís positioned to be at risk of being hooked by road debris and torn out. Is there another way to mount the line? A good sized branch could leave you without brakes.


YippieKiYa and GCinSC2

Thanks for the comments. I share your concern. The present clearance is 10Ē from the road to the rubber hose. I am trying to make sure that the hose placement allows the full range of suspension motion without touching the frame. The present placement is just a starting point. The attachment on the fitting to the caliper has the hose pointing down. I can rotate the fitting maybe 45 to 60 degrees to gain more ground clearance. I can maybe increase the ground clearance to 12.5Ē. If I do this I may end up with the hose touching the frame if I hit a real hard bump. One of my concerns with rotating the fitting is I donít want to cause a leak. On one side I will be tightening the fitting when I rotate it to gain more ground clearance where on the other side I will be loosening it. I will take a photo tomorrow from a different angle to provide more information.

It may take a while to fine tune the location of the flexible brake hose. In the end I may need to change the design of the hard brake line. That is ok. Thatís design by trial and error. I donít know how else to do it. As long as I get it right in the end I will be happy to do whatever needs to be done.

Thanks again, Dan
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:16 PM   #11
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The installer ran my lines from the rear of the axles like yours, but my line kit came with 4" hard lines with a 90 degree bend. He had the bend pointed at about 45 degrees on one of the wheels and up on the other three. The fitting on the caliper worked loose on the one at 45 degrees and leaked enough fluid over a couple hundred miles to empty the reservoir and I lost my brakes. I plan to relocate the lines such that the connection to the flexible line is at the front of the axle and the line runs down the swing arm to the caliper. This should reduce the stresses on the flexible line and the caliper connection.

I can't take credit for this idea, GCinSC2 mentioned it first.

Al
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Old 04-04-2018, 09:29 PM   #12
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Today was a big day for me. I finished installing the hard brake lines to the belly pan, completed the hydraulic line connection to the brake actuator, filled the system with DOT 3 brake fluid, bled the system, installed the new brake controller in my Tundra and took a test drive. The disc brakes worked great. I could not be happier. Here are some photos.

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The biggest problem I had today was drilling the hole in the floor and belly pan to route the brake line back to the actuator. Where I wanted to put it was right over the top of the frame. Hence the 3 small holes in the last photo. Compared to the problems I could have had this was a minor inconvenience.

All in all I am thrilled with the way this disc brake system has turned out. I had minimal problems because I believe that I did my homework and maybe just a bit lucky. I was concerned about flaring the brake lines with the resultant leaking joints. I bought a flaring tool that made the job simple. Maybe overkill, but remember I had no experience working on brake lines. I would make the same decision again. I went with Kodak calipers that are simple and have a good reputation. I went with the state of the art Tuson hydraulic brake actuator and also their DirecLink brake controller. One of my concerns, bleeding the brakes, was incredibly simple. Just pull the emergency pin to start the pump and bleed the brakes. Took just 10 minutes.

Because of my inexperience and a slight screwup on my part I bought 25 ft of steel brake line and also 25 ft of copper nickel brake line. I now realize that the copper nickel line is much better as it wonít rust, is easier to flare and easier to bend. Once I settle on a location for the flexible line, I will replace the steel line with the copper nickel line.

So glad that I decided to install disc brakes. Now I just need to find the best location for running the flexible brake line and as GCinSC2 suggested, protect the flexible brake line to prevent damage if it does come in contact with something.

Dan
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Old 04-05-2018, 07:50 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
The installer ran my lines from the rear of the axles like yours, but my line kit came with 4" hard lines with a 90 degree bend. He had the bend pointed at about 45 degrees on one of the wheels and up on the other three. The fitting on the caliper worked loose on the one at 45 degrees and leaked enough fluid over a couple hundred miles to empty the reservoir and I lost my brakes. I plan to relocate the lines such that the connection to the flexible line is at the front of the axle and the line runs down the swing arm to the caliper. This should reduce the stresses on the flexible line and the caliper connection.

I can't take credit for this idea, GCinSC2 mentioned it first.

Al


Al

Could you please post photos of where the flexible line should be located and run?

Thanks, Dan
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Old 04-05-2018, 08:48 AM   #14
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Dan, I haven't done this yet, so no photos, but the line kit I bought showed the line from the actuator coming down one side to a Tee which, I think, should be located in front of the axle rather than behind it. One side of the Tee had the flexible hose which ran up in front of the axle and down the pivot arm to a hard line connected to the caliper. This minimizes the motion of the flexible line to about 20-30 degrees of bending at the point where the hose goes over the pivot point. The other side of the Tee was a hard line to the other side of the trailer where there was another Tee. Again, one side had the flexible line to the caliper, the other went past the axle to a point in front of the rear axle where another Tee split between the caliper and a line across to the other side. On the other side, an elbow connects to the flexible line to the caliper.

My supposition is that going side to side is an attempt at equalizing the braking action, coupled with the fact that it is easier to route the line between the axles along one side rather than down the middle due to the protrusion of the tank pan.

I will be reworking the lines on my trailer in a week or so and will post pictures when finished.

Al
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:26 PM   #15
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Here is a photo of the right side brake flexible line routing for both wheels. Because it leaves the caliper and goes straight down it results in the maximum clearance between the frame and the line of about 4Ē. This also results in about a 10Ē clearance between road and the bottom of the flexible line. I will probably rotate the fitting between the caliper and the line to reduce the distance between the line and the frame while increasing the ground clearance.

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Old 04-08-2018, 09:06 PM   #16
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We just returned from a camping trip covering 600 miles of towing with the new disc brakes, axles, wheels and tires. The brakes worked great. No delay that I could tell and all stops were smooth as could be. Now there will be no concern when I come to a red light and need to stop the rig like right now or in an emergency. No more drama about locking up the drum brakes and skidding the tires. The Airstream also towed so smoothly that I mostly did not think about it being behind me. Driving the Tundra was similar to driving it solo. I could not be happier.

It also occurred to me that my 66 Airstream now tows better and safer than any new Airstream does because you canít get a new Airstream with disc brakes. I am really disappointed in Airstream for not offering disc brakes as standard equipment. They should be.

Dan
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Old 04-09-2018, 09:50 PM   #17
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I believe the disc brake conversion has been very successful, so I am going to provide some addition information about the decisions that were made and the work that was completed for documentation and to assist others who may want to convert their drum brakes to disc brakes.

I learned of the Tuson DirecLink Brake Controller and the Tuson ActuLink Brake Actuator about 2 or 3 years ago. I consider both to be state of the art products as they use input from the TV OBDII connector. I decided then that my next brake controller would be the DirecLink and if I installed disc brakes I would use the ActuLink Brake Actuator. This was an easy decision.

I purchased both products from Southwest Wheel (www.southwestwheel.com). The brake controller was $325, and the brake actuator was $525.

I decided to install disc brakes at the same time that I was installing new axles. I ordered the Dexter Torflex 3500# axles from Colin Hyde since he was the most experienced and could advise me on technical issues. I had the most confidence that if I ordered the axles through him that the process would have the best chance of going smoothly. I ordered the axles derated to 2500# as I believed this was all that my Tradewind would need. The Dexter 3500# axles come with the #84 spindle which are designed for 10Ē disc brakes (Kodiak) with a 5 bolt hub on 4.5Ē centers. I ordered bare axles with the shock brackets welded in place and with the ďeasy lubeĒ spindles.

The delivered cost of the bare axles was $935. Colin recommended Monroe Gas Magnum shocks (#555003). I ordered 4 from Amazon for $25 each.

I ordered all the Kodiak disc brake parts from www.kodiaktrailerbrakes.com. I ordered two sets of 10Ē Kodiak Slip On Disc Brake Kit with Dacromet 5 Bolt Galvanized Hubs. Both sets cost $600 total. This included 16 SS mounting bolts and 4 aluminum dust caps. Add ons were 3 female inverted flare Tís, wheel bearing grease, four Kodiak 18Ē flexible DOT brake hose, DOT hydraulic fluid 20 SS lug nuts totaling $155.

Here is a photo of the left rear wheel disc brake. I think it looks great!
Enough for tonight. I will add some more detail tomorrow.

Dan

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Old 04-10-2018, 11:02 AM   #18
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Dan,

Nicely done and of values to guide or suggest to others seeking disc brakes.

One thing that we are all missing is a honest controlled drum vs disc comparison for stopping distances of equal setups.

Start debate hereó->

Dan if youíd send me an email via PM pretty sure I can find an interesting statement that you can post. Iím out of picture space. No I didnít author it, the mothership did.

Gary
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Old 04-10-2018, 06:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Dan,

Nicely done and of values to guide or suggest to others seeking disc brakes.

One thing that we are all missing is a honest controlled drum vs disc comparison for stopping distances of equal setups.

Start debate hereó->

Dan if youíd send me an email via PM pretty sure I can find an interesting statement that you can post. Iím out of picture space. No I didnít author it, the mothership did.

Gary


Thanks, Gary I have PMíd you my email address.

I personally donít think there is any debate about what is better. If others think drum brakes are better, that is fine with me.

Dan
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:06 PM   #20
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This will be a continuation of post #17.

After installation of the bare axle and shocks, installation of the hub, brake disc and caliper was straight forward. I ordered the axles with easy lube grease fittings. This makes greasing the hub assembly incredibly simple.

Ordering the 3500# axles requires a 5 lug hub on 4.5Ē centers. This means that new wheels are needed. I ordered aluminum wheels and they were about $80 each.

Before I could install the Actuator I wanted to replace the umbilical cord. I bought one from VTS for $50. Here is a photo of the cord installed and the color/functionClick image for larger version

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The umbilical cord needed to be connected to the Tradewind wiring. The Tradewind function-color is Brake-Yellow, Ground-White, +Battery-Blue, Backup-Black, Right Turn-Brown, Left Turn-Red, Tail Lights (running)-Green. The connection between the umbilical cord and the Tradewind wiring is made in a small access panel at the right front of the A frame. See the photo below.Click image for larger version

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The wiring from the Actuator then needed to be connected to the umbilical cord wiring and the Tradewind wiring. The wiring diagram for the Actuator is shown below.Click image for larger version

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There are 4 connections that need to be made to the Actuator. I cut the wires in the pigtail (photo below) so that I could make the connections above the floor and then run the wires below the floor and go about 4 ft over to the junction area next to the A frame.Click image for larger version

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After making the connections I covered the 4 wires with 3/8Ē plastic conduit from the Actuator connector to the junction. The covered wire connections above the floor are shown in this photo.Click image for larger version

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The 30 amp fuse in the black charge wire can be seen in this photo.

I located the actuator next to the water pump because it would fit here and I wanted it to be inside. Making the wiring connections and tying into the brake lines seemed reasonably doable with this location also.

Making the wiring connections to the actuator was not difficult, but it was a bit tedious. I needed to take my time and not make any mistakes.

Next on the agenda was the hydraulic lines. I was nervous about doing this because I had never done it before and I was concerned about leaking connections. As such I did not trust my cheap flaring tool and spent $200 for a brake flaring tool that makes perfect double flares and a brake line bending tool for tight bends ($10), see photo below.Click image for larger version

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I recommend copper nickel brake line because it is corrosion resistant, is easy to bend and seals well. I got two 25í rolls from www.thestopshop.com for $21 each and about $20 for miscellaneous fittings and hangers. The hard brake line is very easy to install. The only real tricky part is running the flexible lines to the calipers. Mine are too low presently. I plan to raise them, but I donít want the lines to touch anything during motion of the suspension. This is really the only hard part of the disc brake installation process.

Bleeding the actuator and the brake lines and calipers was easy. Just pull the breakaway switch pin and bleed the system.

I hope this primer helps anybody who is contemplating installing disc brakes. Ask any questions that you might have.

Dan
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